Pesta Raya - Malay Festival of Arts 2014
Rainbow For You By Ning Baizura
Esplanade Concert Hall/Saturday
Malaysian singer Ning Baizura is certainly a trouper. Despite nursing a nasty flu, she soldiered on to deliver her first major solo gig in Singapore.
In fact, if she had not told the audience of her condition or sniffled between songs while she bantered with fans, one would have never guessed that she was feeling under the weather. In a show that stretched to almost three hours, the R&B and pop star did not betray a flaw in her voice as she went through her trademark vocal acrobatics.
She was in a chirpy and chatty mood, too, regaling the audience with endless monologues about her songs, stories from the 22 years in show business and anecdotes about those nearest and dearest to her.
This is one woman who is not afraid to lay bare her emotions - there were several instances where her feelings got the better of her and the tears started flowing mid-song, particularly in the contemplative piano ballad Dugaanku from her 1993 debut Dekat Padamu.
The 39-year-old singer herself seems to be in a really happy place in her family life - becoming a mother for the first time changed her life, she told the audience.
For her 1 1/2-year-old kid, she sang her interpretation of The Wizard Of Oz's Over The Rainbow, with Malay and English lyrics.
The tearducts sprang again and she spoke of how sad she was that it was her British husband's birthday that day and that he could not join her in Singapore. To make up for missing out on the celebrations, she dedicated a rock version of John Legend's recent hit All Of Me to him.
While she also performed a flawless, pitch-perfect rendition of Mariah Carey's Hero and paid tribute to the recently departed local keroncong icon Kartina Dahari by singing a piano version of Sayang Di Sayang, most of the two dozen tunes on her setlist were culled from the 15 releases in her own discography. Her surprise guest performer, Malaysian-based Singapore R&B/soul singer Imran Ajmain, duetted with her on Antara Kita and Lagu Gembira.
The two long, black dresses that she wore in the show, though figure-hugging, were nowhere near as risque as the revealing outfits that generated much controversy across the Causeway back in the mid-1990s.
In fact, she joked about the midriff-baring top she wore in a gig at the local Hard Rock Cafe in 1996 that had conservative fans and media in Malaysia calling for her head.
That is not the kind of performer she is now. In fact, she admitted during the show that the six-inch heels that she had on gave her leg cramps. So she took them off near the end of the show, rather than endure the pain for the sake of looking good.
Ning might have the voice of a diva but she certainly did not have the temperament of one. As she sang on Bukan Wanita Sempurna from her latest album released earlier this year, she is not perfect and the fact that she is candid about her flaws is what makes her so appealing.